Saturday, November 1, 2008
Some lighter fare for the weekend - two from the NY Times and one about veterinary palliative care (see subsequent post).
First is a brief editorial from Thomas Lynch, the Michigan undertaker-poet-philosopher who I think of as a kind of Robert Bly of cadavers (see these posts here and here). It's about All Saints'/All Souls' Days and Americans' relationship to death. He's always an interesting read:
We humans are bound to and identified with the earth, the dirt, the humus out of which our histories and architectures rise — our monuments and memorials, cairns and catacombs, our shelters and cityscapes. This “ground sense,” to borrow William Carlos Williams’s idiom, is at the core of our humanity. And each stone on which we carve our names and dates is an effort to make a human statement about death, memory and belief. Our kind was here. They lived; they died; they made their difference. For the ancient and the modern, the grave is an essential station. But less so, lately, especially here in the United States, where we whistle past our graveyards and keep our dead at greater distance, consigned to oblivions we seldom visit, estranged and denatured, tidy and Disney-fied memorial parks with names like those of golf courses or megachurches.2)
The second is a story about hospice chaplains in NYC. It talks about how that apparently hospice chaplaincy services are increasing in the US (up from 59% to 72% per the NHPCO) and presents that as a function of patient demand - something I was unaware of. The story is also discusses very positively the non-sectarian nature of the work, and implies, perhaps, the increase in demand is due to more and more patients not having pre-existing relationships with their own clergy.
Contrary to the above I'll point out Hospice Guy at Hospice Blog recently posted about his concerns hospice chaplains may be phased out in many hospices in the future.